One gene could explain natural maternal instinct, says study
A ‘good mother’ gene could be behind a woman’s natural maternal instincts and determines how much effort they put into primary care, a study claims.
Researchers claim to have discovered a single gene in a specific group of brain cells can control crucial biological behaviour such as protecting, feeding or raising children, reports Metro.
Scientists found when the neurons were reduced in mice, they spent less time licking, nursing and retrieving their young.
Researchers have pinpointed that the cells contain the ER alpha receptor, which picks up chemical signals in maternal care and sexual behaviour. Mice with lowered ER alpha levels responded to their pups differently from normal mice, but showed similar aggression when defending nests.
“Manipulation of a specific gene in a specific group of neurons can drastically alter the expression of a biologically crucial behaviour,” explained lead researcher Dr Ana Ribeiro, from New York’s Rockefeller University.
“These effects are remarkably specific, as even related behaviours are unaffected by these manipulations,” she said.
So mums, it sounds like great mums are just born that way. Might be time to give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back!
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